Scaling Gehry’s toxic fish

A stalwart presence in the Rapson Hall courtyard is getting scaled of it’s toxic lead shingles. The wood-framed, lead clad structure is a relic of the 1986 Gehry exhibit at the Walker. But fire inspectors recently insisted that sprinklers be added at a reputed cost of over $20k. In this cash strapped economy, the College of Design decided to flay the fish and leave the bones (which made the inspectors happy).

Now that the interior is being daylighted, maybe folks will start using it and prevent the structure from reverting to the storage shed status of recent years.

The LAtimes review of the exhibit (once it traveled to MOCA), quotes F.O.G. on the fish:

‘”The interesting thing about all the fish studies for me has been the ability to capture movement in a built form,” states Gehry. “The movement of the scales of a fish is something I’m trying to transmit into architecture,”

But I’m not sure he ever has transmitted motion into static architecture.

[Full disclosure, I worked in the F.O.G.A. model shop way back in ’94 ]

the first showing of the fish

Frank Gehry in the exhibition The Architecture of Frank Gehry, 1986 Walker Art Center Archives

Attempts to sell the Lead Fish

More from Leslie Hindman Auctioneers about the fish.

Kurt Anderson’s review of the exhibit.

Architect’s Newspaper’s 80th birthday interview .

[update 8-28-2010] NYTs on exhibit of Gehry’s fish lamps.


7 thoughts on “Scaling Gehry’s toxic fish

  1. The dean’s office just issued the following missive:

    I’ve fielded several questions about “the fish” in Rapson hall, so wanted to send a short note to let folks know what has been going on.

    Last fall we received notice from the fire inspector that the fish, as
    it was, violated fire code. Our options were to install a fire
    suppression system inside the fish or remove the scales so that the
    building’s sprinkling system could reach the wood structure. We opted to remove the scales — as most of you know those were made of lead. Once removed, the technicians notified us that there was lead in many (if not most) of the screw holes where the scales were held in place. Our options were to seal the wood or disassemble the structure entirely. Because of the cost, we opted to remove the structure and send it to storage along with the scales. Removal of the remaining pieces from the building will be completed on Wednesday midday.

    The Goldstein continues to work to find a suitable permanent home for the fish.

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